Whenever there’s a spike in youth crime or truancy in the UK, a certain sector of society starts the call to bring back national service. The concept of all young adults, when they reach a certain age, undertaking a period of military service. The theory is that it teaches a number of key skills, including discipline and hard work, while helping the country defend itself. Even today, many countries require some form of military service, including the likes of Finland, Denmark and South Korea.
In Israel, at the age of 18, males are expected to complete 32 months within the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), females 24 months. There are exceptions, of course, but most complete this undertaking. At any time, roughly a third of the population are available for military service. While the army uses a much lower number, the country has become an almost a de facto militarised state. Children are taught, from an early age, about serving their country. It seeps into every element of life. Innocence considers this indoctrination.
Innocence uses diary entries of young Israelis who lost their lives serving their country. This puts the situation into perspective and helps make Guy Davidi’s (5 Broken Cameras) documentary extremely moving. He pieces together the ‘propaganda’ used within schools to create a culture of nationalistic militarism. It’s frightening how easily most citizens accept the current situation. And how love of your country can be manipulated into racism and hatred. Innocence is a powerful argument for urgent change.
Innocence screens at IDFA.